Lansing State Journal from Lansing, Michigan on December 25, 2005 · Page 27
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Lansing State Journal from Lansing, Michigan · Page 27

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Lansing, Michigan
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Sunday, December 25, 2005
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Page 27
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Lansing State Journal Sunday December 25, 2005 www.lsj.com Big rematch Brent Neal Sports Editor 377-1071 E-mail: sportsIsj.com The Detroit Pistons square ( against the NBA champs today Page 4C flffD 5P ORTS H Last-second field goal lifts Detroit in otherwise ugly offensive game By Jim Vertuno Lions 13 Saints 12 of the NFL's tailenders. There were six field goals, no offensive touchdowns, dropped passes and spotty play by two quarterbacks still trying to figure out where they fit with their teams. "Winning like this shows character," Lions quarterback Joey Harrington said. New Orleans, which lost on a bizarre penalty and re-kick on the final play two months ago against Atlanta, figured to have this one locked away when John Carney kicked his fourth field The first came on fourth down, a 40-yard sideline catch. On the second, with about 13 seconds left, Williams caught the ball in the middle of the field. "I knew it was going to come my way," said Williams, who had dropped two passes earlier. "I told myself, You better not drop it, they'll make fun of you the rest of your life.'" The Lions were a bit lucky. Interim coach Dick Jauron considered spiking the ball to stop the clock, but Hanson and the kicking unit al ready were running on the field. That meant everyone else had to hustle off. As the last seconds ticked off, Hanson launched a low kick that knuckled through the uprights for the win. "It was done like it should have been, but I would have liked to have killed the clock and given them time to set up," Jauron said. "I was watching the clock because that would have been a bad way to lose the game." See LlONS Page 6C Associated Press SAN ANTONIO It was an ugly game in an ugly season for both the Detroit Lions and the New Orleans Saints. So bad, in fact, it took the ugliest of kicks in the final seconds to win it. Jason Hanson rushed on to the field and kicked a 39-yard knuckleball field goal as time expired, giving the Lions a 13-12 victory Saturday in a game that, for three quarters, featured two Inside l Redskins one win from playoffs. Page7C goal for a 12-10 lead with 1:52 to play. Harrington, who had been benched twice this season, struggled most of the game before connecting with receiver Roy Williams for two big completions on the Lions' final drive. ERIC GAYAssociated Press On target: Lions kicker Jason Hanson (4) celebrates with holder Nick Harris (2) and other teammates after Hanson kicked the game-winning field goal against the Saints as time expired Saturday. LAST CHANCE AT HIS BASKETBALL DREAM Magic dishes on Shaq, Lakers By David Moore KRT News Service Winter blahs now are ahhhs atMSU EAST LANSING Standing lookout atop Breslin Center is a cold, lonely business these days. By this point in a typical Michigan State basketball season, there's usually plenty of danger, real or perceived, to shout about By this point, enemies have been spotted on the horizon or spilling over the gates of the Spartans' stronghold. No one ran the fast break like Lansing native Earvin "Magic" Johnson. If s still hard to keep up with him. We tried as he talked about his beloved Lakers, Kobe, Shaq and Pat QUESTION: What are your impressions of the Lakers this season? JOHNSON: I think ifs been an inconsistent team, but in the last few games, they seem to have found their stride and gotten it more together. always thought this was going to be a team (that came together) in January . or Febru- Johnson CHRIS HOLMESLansmg State Journal A handful:.. Ron Banks (center) is trying to balance a job, college, athletics and family time with girlfriend LaFrance McCullough and the couple's three children (from left): Zeale McCullough, 7, Miana McCullough, 3, and Auncia McCullough, 6. By this point, MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo is usually in full mode, convinced his carefully constructed kingdom is YEARS GONE TEN Todd SCHULZ tschulzlsj.cxim 377-1051 BY TODD SCHULZ I LANSING STATE JOURNAL 3 en years ago, Ron Banks was a boy who played basketball like Still got it: Ron Banks, now 28, averages 17 points a game for LCC. Mi iJ a man. Today, he is a man playing basketball among boys Banks is a former Sexton High School star and a blue- Jfr s "4f KEVIN W. FOWLER chip recruit. As a senior in 1996, it was clear he had the talent to play big-time college ball perhaps beyond. It was equally clear he didn't have the grades. j. w $ 7 f - his girlfriend and qhildren, he has a whole new perspective! , on what he left behind and what lies ahead. Banks played just one season at a Texas junior college and two games at Lansing Community College before drifting away from the court and into the real world. But he never gave up - "I knew I made a huge mistake when I quit," Banks said. "I thought I would never play agam except for pickup games and (recreation) balL This is defi Then and now Ron Banks was a high school basketball star at Sexton hampered by bad grades. Banks, now 28, plays at Lansing Community College and is trying to put his academic career back on track. on basketball. Now a 28-year-old father of three, Banks is back as a starting forward for LCC, playing the game he loves in the hometown he once vowed to leave behind. And this time, Banks has more than hoop dreams on his mind. He wants what stymied ary, anyway. You havent heard this criticism since the 62-point game, but a lot has been made of Kobe Bryant taking so many shots. What do you read into that? Nothing, other than he was taking some bad shots. And he knew it He realizes he needs those other guys for . the Lakers to win. But sometimes, you get caught in the moment He understands. I love Kobe. He's play-ingunbelievablebasketbalL But he's got to understand the next level for him is just making the other guys better, thafs alL Maybe that's to go from 30 shots to 25. Once you get there, now you take 22 shots and give those extra to the other guys. He wants to win so bad, he feels he can do it by himself, and he's got to realize he can't What are your thoughts about Pat Riley's return to the bench with Miami? Some people are going to have to grow some tough skin. Let me tell you something. Pat is a direct guy. That is going to really be different than everyone is used to. He will say it in a way they're not used to a coach saying it, and be right in their face. He doesn'tmind singling out everybody, and that is from Shaq on down. He got in my face, too. But you know what? He was right- How do you think Shaqullle O'Neal will react to that approach? I don't think Pat is going to care. He's going to push everybody. He knows he needs Shaquille to be a dominant player. Do you think they're the best team in the East? They've got the talent, butletmetellyou, they have to reach Detroit's level, because right now, they're not at Detroit's leveL nitely a second chance for me. A chance for me to try to get an education out of it, improve my lifestyle and really make a way for me and my family." collapsing around him. A quick peek at the past four Decembers: 2001 Early NBA defections reduced MSLPs roster to just eight scholarship players. 1 2002 Senior Adam Ballinger's slump and a troubling home loss to Toledo were ominous signs. 2003 MSU was on its way to losing six huge non-league games, including defeats against Kansas, Duke and Kentucky. 2004 The Spartans were 8-2 but still lacked a signature win. By comparison, this season's MSU squad can stand on the ramparts, scan the skies and see many more possibilities than problems. 1 The Spartans, who are 10-2 and ranked No. 10 in the country, have pocketed big wins against Arizona and Boston College and competed admirably in a triple-overtime loss to Gonzaga. Their three stars seniors Paul Davis and Maurice Ager as well as junior Shannon Brown are playing like stars and nearly everyone else is playing a role. They've proved to be a very good team with the tantalizing potential to get much better. So far, the main drama has centered on whether junior forward Drew Naymick plans to redshirt because of a shoulder injury. No offense to Naymick, but when your biggest problem is the immediate future of a guy who's averaged 1.5 rebounds and 1.1 points for his career, times are pretty good. Heck, even Izzo has let a few smiles slip, saluting his team's toughness and even admitting he was "pleased" with a win against Wichita State. See SCHULZ Page3C Early phenom How good was Banks in high school? Michigan State coach Tom Izzo wanted to sign him to a scholarship. So did coaches at See BANKS Page3C him as a teenage phenom: An education. Banks works full time as a third-shift custodian at Sparrow Hospital After a decade of punching the clock to support '' r-1 September 1998: Banks enrolls at I August 2005: Lansing Community -College wins appeal to the NJCAA to restore Banks' second year of eligibility. March 1996: Banks earns Class A all-state honors for the second consecutive year. LONG, STRANGE LCC but is declared ineligible after just two games. ROAD I April 1997: Banks leaves Odessa, saying "basketball is not fun for me any more." A decade ago, Ron Banks was at ; Sexton dreaming oftheNBA.His long road has brought him back to the beginning. June 1996: Banks chooses to play college basketball at Odessa (Texas) College. December 2005: 1 Banks is averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Stars and is drawing attention from several Division II schools. 1 April 1996: Banks named State Journal co-Player of the Year and plays in Magic's Roundball Classic, . a national all-star game featuring players such as Mateen Cleaves, Kobe Bryant and Mike Bibby.

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